Monday 24 November 2008

Art Monday: it doesn't always work

Dark! Dark are the days when the artist's mind and hand will not act with confidence, but with trepidation, and lo, the monstrous paint that issues forth from his palette vexes him and plagues his talent. For true, not every act of creation can escape sucking.

This bombastic post is about the paintings that haven't been rehabilitated. I hope to have some news in the near future, and I am working on a number of projects a the moment. Today, I will shine a light on what happens when they don't work out.

Usually after reading some scientific discovery and musing about it
, most ideas pop into my head like a full-blown image. I know what I should do to make it happen, and the idea is laid out in my mind's eye like pages in a book. I'm just copying from my imagination. If there are elements missing, well that's where research takes over, and I look for something appropriate to the subject.

Mother Mars
This oil painting languished unfinished for over a year. The Mother-Nature-on-Mars figure was complete, the sky complete and even the inscription (hard to make out on a blog) of "ALH84001" on the rock.

I stretched it myself, and seriously planned on painting over the entire image many, many times. It needed a baby, an egg, something at the start of life. Over and over I painted mermaid's purses, more accurately known as shark's eggs. The night before a gallery show, I frantically painted a huge microorganism complete with a chain of magnetite like they found in the infamous Martian meteorite. I kept stealing glances at it at the show. The painting surprised me. A wasted, dying mother nature and dying microbaby found dignity instead of a coat of black gesso.

Trilobite Graveyard (
detail of headstone)

Which trilobitologist hasn't hoped to come across this legendary place? This painting is what unfortunately happens when I haven't thought it all the way through. In 2006 my wife challenged me to give a landscape a try, and I thought of an underwater scene, with yellow light for some reason, and a graveyard of trilobites stretching away into the distance. With well over 10 000 species recorded, this would be a fitting way to show their vast numbers,vast age, and the vast populations gone from our fair Earth.

I just couldn't pull it out of its ugly phase. (And, true to the nature of this post, my camera is broken and I seem to have deleted the photo of the whole image, and have only this detail. Arrgh, I say. )

I thought about anomalocaris prowling above, like predatory caretakers. It would add a mournful tone, for the predators can't outlast their prey for long, and add a sense of mystery as to what happened.

I thought about adding a fetching scuba diver to draw the viewer into the scene. Most people respond easily to an image they know, such as a human. Making it an attractive woman would also garner attention, and elements like long hair floating upward with bubbles would allow me to demonstrate the scene is underwater.

I thought about a monstrous underwater temple with a particularly spiky trilobite on top, off in the murky distance. Perhaps the trilobites were up to something sinister, or represented a vast empire in eldritch Cthulhu-esque prehistoric times?

So instead, this Art Monday, let me direct you to the following spectacular artwork that have themes -successfully!- similar to the Trilobite Graveyard:
various episodes of Walcott's Quarry at eTrilobite for the menacing anomalocarids;
at Druantia Art, an underwater scene in progress that is breathtaking even in unfinished form (buy her calender!);
bold rays of light not afraid to overlay some colour at The Day After;
and the beginnings of Cthulhu's rise at When Pigs Fly Returns.

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.


traumador said...

i love the idea of the trilobite graveyard. even if it is sad...

good luck with getting it into the pretty phase!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Traumador!

It may languish a while longer...

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Posts over 14 days old have their comments held in moderation - I've been getting an unusual amount of spam for a guy who paints trilobites. I'll release it lickety-split though.

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